SW Radio Africa (London)

11 July 2012

Zimbabwe: Questions Raised Over Masvingo Court Arson Attack

A suspected arson attack at a court in Masvingo has left thousands of dollars of destruction in its wake and prompted people to question why the records were deliberately targeted.

Court records and office property were destroyed in the fire at the Masvingo Magistrates' Court, which came under attack from suspected arsonists on Monday morning.

Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Tinaye Matake was quoted as saying that investigations have so far shown that the arsonists gained entry into the court through the perimeter fence. He said the criminals entered the building and went through the court's accounts department before torching the records office.

"We are still investigating the case, but preliminary indications show that the unknown arsonists cut the court's fence and attempted to enter into the accounts office before they burnt the documents," he said.

Matake added that the police were still to establish the motive behind the attack and establish the extent of the damage. But it is understood that the kind of documents targeted in the fire are believed to be completed legal cases.

"We are still investigating to establish what got burnt, the motive behind the arson as well as the damage done to the building," Matake said.

The attack appears to have been well thought out, with evidence of dynamite sticks being used to spark the destruction. This suggests that the arsonists could be linked to the mining industry where dynamite is readily available, or that they potentially have connections in that sector.

Meanwhile this is not the first time that arsonists have targeted the courts in Masvingo Province. Last year, the Chiredzi Magistrates' Court was targeted by suspected arsonists in a case that has still not been resolved.

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